Friday, November 09, 2007

British Press.. Why the Distortion?

British Press.. Why the Distortion?

(A translation of an editorial by Anwar Abdulrahman, Editor-in-chief: Akhbar Al-khaleej)

Original editorial in Arabic:

Last week, Bahrain was visited by writers and journalists from four major British newspapers are: The Times, The Independent, The Daily-Telegraph, and The Guardian. They say they are experts in Middle East issues, but by the articles they wrote about the visit after their return to Britain was a travesty of the truth of the situation in Bahrain and a talk that does not bear any degree of responsibility.

After reading their articles, one wonders, could these newspapers be really trusted after that? It is enough simply to narrate the following:
Two of these journalists, Donald Macintyre of the Independent, and Ian Black of The Guardian, paid us a visit at «Akhbar Al-khaleej«. I talked with them for an hour, and joined by two fellow colleagues, Mr George Williams and Mr. Zuhra. Discussions with them covered details on the situation in Bahrain and the region from all aspects raised by them. It was clear that the information provided was of surprise to them. They were not able to conceal their astonishment, and were reiterating, from time to time «But when we talked with Al-Wefaq, they portrayed quite a different picture«.

It was clear that they were concerned only with the negative aspects in Bahrain and want to hear all that is in this direction, especially after hearing from others on allegations of sectarian discrimination between Sunnis and Shiites.

I explained to them, in detail, how the Bahrain is a free liberal society that embraces various political and ideological schools, including schools of extremism, whether Shiite or Sunni.

But the society, in general, is a plural and diverse one, encompasses Shiite and Sunni liberals. It also includes, in the two sides, groupings of different social levels; poor, middle and wealthy. I explained to them how this talk about sectarian discrimination between Sunnis and Shiites in Bahrain is not true. I assured them that when we say this, with regard to this and other issues, we try to explain to them, as colleagues of profession, the true situation in Bahrain as it is away from any political or ideological considerations.

Throughout the talk, they were noting down everything we say. But it is very strange that the reports they wrote and subsequently publish about Bahrain, did not include absolutely none of the information that we provided, or ideas that we expressed. The only exception to that, was a citation in one of their articles, in which I said about the current Bahrain democratic experience and how to its attributed to His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa who initiated it prior to the American President George Bush speech about what he claimed to be his project to spread democracy in the region. indicating that it is a pure Bahraini experience.

The issue here is that these journalists came to Bahrain and were given the opportunity to talk with everyone and listen to all views about the situation in Bahrain and the region. The simplest rules of profession and was their duty to provide to the British reader with the whole picture, and all different views in a balanced manner. But what did, is they flouted the simplest rules of the profession, and presented to the reader the only views which portray a negative image of the situation in Bahrain.
The question that must be asked is: Why? .. Why do they do it? Are they flawless neutral journalists or imposters just want to distort the truth?

It seems from what they published about Bahrain that their only intentions was to provide opinions and viewpoints challenging experience in Bahrain and talked about the negatives alone and nothing but this.

By this, they not blemish their newspapers and their readers, but also mislead their politicians. If their press coverage is biased, illusive and distortive to the reality, how can policy makers in London formulate accurate idea and have objectively fair assessment of the real situation in Bahrain?

I advise the chief editors of these newspapers to check, in the future, of the authenticity, integrity and neutrality of such reports. It is, in the end, about the credibility of these newspapers. It is certain that by the publishing such reports on Bahrain, theses newspapers have lost much of its credibility.

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The articles referred to by the editor-in-chief of Akhbar Al-khaleej:

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